Japan’s Professional Sports Post-Coronavirus Summer Outlook

ByJason Gatewood
Jul 01, 2020

Japan’s Professional Sports Post-Coronavirus Summer Outlook

Like in the rest of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, anything that attracts large numbers of people together for hours on end has been postponed or canceled in Japan, including Major League sports. The situation remains fluid, however as some sports leagues are finding ways to deal with the job despite it all. Here’s a brief rundown of what the different sports teams and organizations around Japan are doing in the “new normal”:

Japan Major League Baseball (NPB)

The season was shortened after play got underway three months later than planned on June 19 and only in empty stadiums. The shortened season will go on through November. There are tentative plans to welcome fans back into stadiums sometime July 10, starting at a very low 5000 spectators per game, depending on government guidelines by then.

Summer Sumo Tournament

Japan’s national sport has already had to hold its March spring tourney sans-spectators, totally canceled the May meets, and moved the summer bouts in July from Nagoya to Tokyo, also with no plans for fans in the stands. It remains unclear what happens beyond that point, but you can bet they will be extra cautious to keep both grapplers and fans healthy; an apprentice wrestler died from COVID-19 related complications May 13.

J-League Soccer

The season is set to open a month late to empty arenas on July 4. However, only the first two matches per team will be held this way; the plan is to let live spectators join in after that gradually.

Formula One

F1’s October 11th stop at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture for the Japan Grand Prix is canceled for 2020 due to the uncertainty of travel restrictions getting into the country at this time.

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Of course, the major blow to this year’s sporting calendar was the announcement of the Tokyo Summer Games being postponed to July of 2021.

For those sports still planned or ongoing, we recommend they be enjoyed on TV or the internet as there is still an air of uncertainty as to how virulent Coronavirus spreads. Most games/matches are televised, so even the biggest superfans will be able to see almost every angle of play.

Image: 663highland [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Jason Gatewood subscriber

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at · http://jlgatewood.com